Ideal Sugar Cookies

ideal sugar cookies
Photo: Alpha Smoot
2 dozen

Get out your cookie cutters! As its name suggests, this sugar cookie recipe is ideal for making cutout cookies for Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday or occasion that calls for shaped sweet treats.


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons brandy or milk

  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies, optional


  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, brandy, and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

  2. Transfer dough to a clean surface. Shape into 2 disks, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and transfer to prepared sheets, spaced 1 inch apart. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer sheets to wire racks; let cool completely.

  5. Decorate with royal icing, if desired.

Cook's Notes

Soft cookie dough loses its shape when moved; to retain crisp cut edges, refrigerate dough as directed in recipe until firm before baking. This recipe is adapted from "The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook" (Oxmoor House, 2003).

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